Even before the trial started, I was having cash flow problems. So if I still wanted to make art, I had to keep my costs down; which is why I became a performance artist.
Luckily, during the 1980s, London was a hotbed of performance art. My favourite venue was the Brixton Art Gallery where I'd go to watch the edgy performances of Ian Hinchliffe, Kevin O’Connor, Stefan Szczelkun, André Stitt, Sean Caton, and Manfred Blöb.
However my earliest memory of performance art was the 1974 Mr. Peanut election campaign, performed by Vincent Trasov and John Mitchell in Vancouver. For that performance, Trasov wore a Mr. Peanut costume and whenever he was asked a question, he only tap-danced; he never spoke. His spokesperson was Mitchell, who repeatedly said, “Elect a nut for Mayor.”
Five years after that, I saw the performance artist Chris Burden dig a long, straight ditch under a Vancouver bridge. While watching him dig, I asked him, "What are you doing?" But he completely ignored me and kept on digging. In fact the undistractible Burden silently dug that ditch eight hours a day for a week. And on the last day, he filled the whole ditch back in, entitled the performance Honest Labour, got paid and went home.
I also saw a performance by the Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch at Vancouver’s Western Front art gallery. Indeed, I can still remember the moment when Nitsch took the intestines of a dead goat and smeared them over the naked body of a blindfolded man. I can also remember the public outcry that happened when everyone heard that the performance had been government funded.
And so with these examples in mind, I became a performance artist.